The problem with sustainability is every brand and every person on social media has a different definition. The word “sustainability” is now so overused as to be irrelevant. Sustainability is at a stage where companies need to define their version and then give it a distinct brand moniker.
Because lululemon is from the home of Greenpeace and has a nickname of “Lotus Land”, recycling has always been “normal”. In 1998 we used recycled polyester and had recycling bins in our stores for staff and customers. This may seem normal now but it sure wasn’t in 1998.
Because anyone in social media can attack a brand based on a writer’s definition of sustainability, a brand cannot win. What is important is to stand for something. I wanted to get to the core issue, and to me sustainability revolved around our people doing the right thing. With 20,000 employees and a global business, someone is always going to find something that the company is doing wrong, in their opinion. At lululemon the strategy was to develop great individuals and give them a framework of purpose, values, linguistic abstraction and our code to make decisions.